Unpacking SPLUMA

A book which offers practical insight around Spatial Planning and Land Use Management in South Africa

The Spatial Planning & Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 (SPLUMA) came into effect in South Africa on 1 July 2015 and the regulations on 13 November 2015. It signifies a new dawn in urban planning, cementing the pivotal role of municipalities in effecting “municipal planning” and provides clarity on how planning law interacts with other laws and policies. However, day to day practical implementation of the Act remains complex.

For this reason, a panel of authors who are eminently qualified in both the legal and practical aspects of urban and regional planning and who practice and lecture extensively on the subject, set out to produce the book, SPLUMA: A Practical Guide, published by LexisNexis South Africa.

This publication provides much needed practical guidance on the day to day implementation of the Act and its regulations to both professional and government markets and is vital to any person involved in spatial planning, land use and land development matters.

The authors - Adv Nic Laubscher, Lizette Hoffman, Professor Ernst Drewes and Jan Nysschen – unpack the book here.

What is SPLUMA?
“SPLUMA” is the generally accepted acronym for the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 which is a piece of national legislation that came into effect on 1 July 2015, and its regulations on 13 November 2015.

Why is it important?
SPLUMA intends to provide by means of a single national act, supported by the envisaged provinces’ legislation on spatial planning and land use management, a uniform, effective and comprehensive system of spatial planning and land use management in South Africa. Whether SPLUMA achieved this goal, especially in view of the provincial legislation which it requires in order to deal with the vast number of matters set out in Schedule 1 to SPLUMA and the functional, administrative and financial burden it places on municipalities, is debateable and controversial to say the least.

One of the other objectives of SPLUMA is to ensure that the system of spatial planning and land use management promotes social and economic inclusion. A further objective is for SPLUMA to redress the imbalances of the past and to ensure that there is equity in the application of spatial development planning and land use management systems in South Africa. The development principles of SPLUMA and more specifically the development principle of ‘spatial justice’ are designed to address and rectify the past legacy of racial inequality, segregation and unsustainable settlement patterns.

Why did you decide to publish this book?
SPLUMA is a new and ground-breaking piece of legislation which had the opportunity to create a new, uniform and sustainable spatial planning and land use management dispensation in South Africa. The true state of affairs in practice is however removed from this theoretical ideology when it comes to the day to day practical implementation of the Act. For instance, current existing provincial legislation, which have not been repealed by SPLUMA or amended or replaced to allow for the implementation of SPLUMA in the relevant province, but of which certain portions thereof are rendered inapplicable by SPLUMA and the new manner in which SPLUMA deals with spatial planning and land use management, are creating challenges to municipalities, government officials, urban planning and legal practitioners in the day to day implementation of the Act and its regulations.

This state of affairs calls for some practical guidance in the implementation of SPLUMA and this is the lacuna which this publication aims at addressing. As stated in the preface: “However, for now the contents of this book must make do with the proverbial ‘one-eye’ status in the ‘land of the blind’ and the insight of the authors at this point in time. Whether this insight is considered by the reader as good, bad or indifferent, it represents the sincere and honest endeavour of the authors to provide a measure of practical guidance where there is currently none, or very little. In order to do so, SPLUMA must be interpreted and a number of connections must be made between SPLUMA and existing legislation and subject matter.”

Tell us a little about yourselves and how you managed to collate this book together?
As lawyers and an urban planner, all four of the authors are involved in the day to day practical challenges of having to work with and implement SPLUMA, hence our realisation that practical guidance in dealing with the Act is much needed. We are all colleagues who have known each other for many years, interacting in our capacity as professionals and colleagues with each other and having inter alia served together on the North-West Province’s Townships Board and on the province’s Development Facilitation Tribunal.

Who is the book relevant to and why?
SPLUMA: A Practical Guide is a publication which will give guidance and insight to every person dealing with SPLUMA and its implementation, more specifically:

  • Municipal and government officials and municipal councillors dealing with the day to day interpretation, implementation and effect of the Act;
  • Members of Municipal Planning Tribunals (MPT’S) and persons appointed as Authorised Officials in terms of the Act as well as Appeal Authorities who must apply the Act and its processes and procedures;
  • Urban planning practitioners and urban planning students;
  • Legal practitioners and law students;
  • Academics who must lecture on the provisions of the Act;
  • Land Surveying practitioners and Property Valuers who will interact with SPLUMA in their respective practices;
  • as well as the Judiciary having to interpret and apply the provisions of the act.

Industry Reviews
Peter Dacomb SAACPP: “The acronym “SPLUMA” has dominated the planning landscape in recent times, often resulting in questions and queries which trigger lengthy debates on the practical implications for the practitioner. The book “SPLUMA – A Practical Guide” is a welcome addition to any planner’s bookshelf, providing valuable comments, explanations and interpretations to assist long suffering practitioners in their quest to stay adrift in a seemingly ever changing legislative quagmire.”

Dr DP Cilliers, (Professional Planner): “SPLUMA: A Practical Guide aims to assist those involved in the day to day use and implementation of the Act by providing invaluable insights into the intentions of the Act as well as its practical implementation. Each section of the Act is presented and then explained and discussed. Throughout the book reference is made to planning principles, other relevant legislation as well as case law, which reflects the interpretations of the courts on various relevant issues. Where applicable the authors also give their own interpretations. SPLUMA: A Practical Guide is a first of its kind and will be a valuable resource to implementation agencies, members of MPT’s, professional service providers, urban and regional planners, the legal fraternity and students alike.”

SPLUMA: A Practical Guide (January 2017) is available in print (ISBN: 9780409004953)

The title can be ordered through the LexisNexis online bookstore via this link

For more information, or to order a copy, call the LexisNexis customer care line 0860 765 432 or email

Leave a comment:

Security Picture (click to change)
Word shown in picture:
menu close

Search Articles